Dungeon Fighter Online, a free online game, has been in open beta or a number of weeks now, which has given MMO fans the chance to thoroughly sample the gameplay — and I’ve been amongst them.
Unlike other reviewable games that are more or less fixed when presented to the public, Dungeon Fighter Online‘s MMO roots opens the door to evolving content (something, I suppose, may become commonplace with games of all types thanks to DLC), which renders a review as a snapshot in time. Therefore, take this Dungeon Fighter Online review as version 1.0 of an ever-changing document.
The mark of a well-crafted MMO is the number of hours that it draws from a player, and I can say with truth that I’ve poured more time into Dungeon Fighter Online in the past two weeks than any other game released this year.
If you haven’t been following our Dungeon Fighter Online coverage here’s a crash course: Dungeon Fighter Online is a 2D, free-to-play MMO beat ‘em up published by Nexon America that merges fast-paced arcade action with a slick MMO dressing – - think River City Ransom meets World of Warcraft.
After selecting a character archetype (Gunner, Priest, Mage, Fighter, Slayer), you name your avatar and take it into the virtual world to scour dungeons and slay many, many enemies, or battle other players in the PvP arena (which becomes available when you reach level 10). Like any MMO worth its salt, Dungeon Fighter Online is big on leveling, and acquiring weapons and accessories that will help you customize your character. There are also four sub-classes for each character type.
Dungeon Fighter Online‘s beat ‘em up roots are revealed in its 2D visuals and side-scrolling action. The graphics consist of smoothly animated 2D sprites that hark back to 32-bit era models. They aren’t as hyper-detailed as a, say, Metal Slug game, but the walking, running, and attack animations are fluid. Using my priest Solidios, to attack with a punch-punch-crucifix combo was non-jerky, fast, and responsive, even with multiple characters on screen.
The controls, naturally, are completely customizable. The A-H are for skill attacks, C jumps, X is a basic attack, and F1-F6 are designated for more skill attacks. A heads up: Skill attacks have a cool-down period, so it’s important to learn how to keep the combos flowing for the most efficient attacks. Landing blows resulted in richly satisfying enemy recoil animation, and kept me focused on stringing longer attacks together.
Mastering those attacks is essential to progressing through the game world, especially if you run many solo campaigns. Once my priest reached the level 5 or so, it required a bit of skill in managing potions and powers in order to defeat the hordes of monster within each dungeon; I could no longer beast with pure button mashing.
If Dungeon Fighter Online is free to play, you may ask, how does Nexon America expect to make money? By relying on the most profitable human traits: greed and individualism. All priests, for example, will start with long, black hair, a black and white outfit, and boots. So if a pair of priests went adventuring, they’d look exactly the same — unless you took a quick trip to Nexon America’s store to purchase tops, pants, new skin colors, hair styles, and accessories. Nexon America, like a fashion designer, has just recently introduced a new line of gear, but at the expensive of the old threads which have moved on to the big thrift store in the sky.
Unfortunately, Dungeon Fighter Online is PC only, but I’ve been old that Mac is being considered due to the popularity of the Apple platform in the United States. The good news, however, is that the game, in terms of specs, is one of the least demanding out there: I’ve been able to run it perfectly on an Nvidia Ion-powered Acer AspireRevo R3610-U9012 nettop.
Old school beat ‘em up fans will find a lot to like in Dungeon Fighter Online. There are colorful, well-animated 2D sprites, fast and furious action, tons of abilities to acquire, team work, and a huge heap of fun. The grind may be a turn off once you hit later levels, and the lack of Apple compatibility (at least for now) is a joykill for the member of the Cult of Mac, but Dungeon Fighter Online is one of the best genre mashups to appear in a very long time.